"Brevity is the soul of wit." - Hamlet
Since 2009 the website Texts From Last Night has collected a million Facebook fans, over a billion page views and, above all, countless text messages.
Put together by the site's creators Lauren Leto and Ben Bator, the paper version of Texts From Last Night (Gotham Books, 2010) gathers the best of these, along with a good deal of new material that was saved for the book, and presents them in a stylish little volume that could almost fit in your pocket.
As the book's subtitle "All the texts no one remembers sending" suggests, a great deal of the texts are the result of a hazy night out - fleeting commentary on decisions made, 4 AM philosophy, high-points, low-points, inspired moments and inexplicable ones. To give you a rough cross-section, the categories include: That Just Happened, Drinking Games, Farts Sharts and Queefs, The Morning After, and Don't Let These People Near Children, among others. Sex, drinking and the mishaps that occur when you combine them make for much of the material and parties, bedrooms, bathrooms (and bathroom floors) are the stages.
The miniature missives are often crass:
(203): it tastes like there's a party in my mouth and everyone is throwing up.
(212): it was a great night, didn't pay for anything.
(914): the best nights you never pay for, except in dignity
And often both crass and whimsical at the same time:
(702): I wish we could go back in time and find our best farts ever.
In a sense Texts From Last Night has as many authors as there are entries and Leto and Bator are more like the curators of a strange exhibition of anonymous thoughts, or editors of a collection of The Shortest Short Stories. Yet the random musings of ten thousand nameless thumb-jockeys have to be strained and panned for gold and Leto and Bator have a strong sense of what's funny, making what could have been a random listy into a collection with a voice. Tone as much as novelty is what's made TFLN.com a hit. Likewise, in the book Leto and Bator's taste and sense of humor unifies the chaos until a delicate mixture of crudity and wit is achieved. With topics ranging from anal sex to NPR, a balance is struck that ensures that the collection becomes neither too stuffy nor too STFU.
Texts From Last Night is blunt, breezy and full of surprises. It's a party book with a sailor's mouth. And while we might decry the era of atrophied attention spans that's brought us bite-sized blog posts and slimy creations like the "listicle", for better or for worse, the text is the medium of the moment. There's also a simple beauty in the short form. Each text tells a story in a sentence, and yet each raunchy, whimsical, or vaguely alarming message only hints at the larger story of the night that spawned it. The texts are iceberg tips, and we're left to imagine the rest.